Waterways monitoring

Why do we monitor waterways?

Water quality and the ecological condition or "health" of waterways must be measured regularly (monitored) and the results analysed, interpreted and reported as a prerequisite to achieve effective waterways management.

Monitoring is necessary to detect whether:

  • Health of waterways is improving
  • Healthy waterways of high ecological value are adequately protected
  • Aquatic biodiversity (all things living in waterways) is protected
  • Water resources are protected and managed sustainably
  • Management actions are as effective as planned
  • Number of pollution hot spots is reduced
  • Landuse change is impacting significantly on streams
    (erosion / siltation, impact of pollutants)

Waterways monitoring will also:

Council's predecessors (Caboolture Shire, Pine Rivers Shire and Redcliffe City) carried out waterways monitoring programs since 1996.

After the council amalgamation in 2008, these programs were consolidated and now form the Stream Health Monitoring Program of the Moreton Bay Region. The program covers all freshwater streams of the Region. There are no natural standing freshwaters (lakes) in the Region; the large dams (reservoirs) are monitored by Seqwater.

Monitoring of the marine ecosystems and the Region's two large estuaries of the Pine and Caboolture Rivers is part of the South East Queensland regional Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program of which Council is a partner.

Stream monitoring

Stream Health Monitoring Program

More than 1000 kilometres of freshwater streams are monitored at over 160 sites on a four yearly cycle.

What is monitored?

Streams are not just water, but living aquatic ecosystems, which are closely intertwined with their catchment areas and human activities. And humans depend on intact living waters.

Ecosystems are governed by complex biological, chemical and physical processes. Consequently several indicators that complement each other are required to measure the ecological condition of a stream (or stream health, for short), including biological indicators and physical/chemical indicators.


Biological indicators

Benthic macroinvertebrates are excellent stream health indicators because the very existence of these animal communities at a certain stream site integrates everything that happened at this site as well as further upstream. Council measures the species that are present (species composition), their densities (community structure), and whether a stream site sustains rare and locally significant macroinvertebrates (species of high biodiversity value).

Physical and chemical indicators

Physical and chemical indicators for monitoring waterways measure concentrations of substances and contaminants (if present) in the water at the time of sampling.


The spatial distribution of Stream Health Classes throughout the Region is shown in the Freshwater Stream Health Map [PDF 890KB]

The target Stream Health Classes for the Region by 2031 are shown in the Target Freshwater Stream Health Map [PDF 840KB]


The health of freshwater streams throughout the Moreton Bay Region is reported on annually.

  • Currently more than 40% of freshwater streams in the Moreton Bay Region are healthy (Stream Health Class a, b, c) - they need to be protected.
  • Almost half of all streams (49.7%) are moderately disturbed yet still ecologically balanced (SHC d) - here further degradation has to be prevented and stream health should be improved.
  • The remaining 9.1% of streams are polluted (SHC e, f) - all lie in urban catchment areas and need repair

The seven Stream Health Classes (SHC) and portion of stream kilometres per SHC in the Moreton Bay Region, as in 2014. A total of 1055 stream kilometres were assessed.

SHC Colour SHC description Total length per SHC (km) Proportion  per SHC (%) Required management response
a Stream Health Class a near-natural 44.4 4.2 protect
b Stream Health Class b minimally disturbed 61.3 5.8 protect
c Stream Health Class c slightly disturbed 328.7 31.2 protect
d Stream Health Class d moderately disturbed 524.0 49.7 prevent further degradation
e Stream Health Class e polluted 86.5 8.2 repair
f Stream Health Class f severely polluted 9.7 0.9 repair
g Stream Health Class g excessively polluted 0.0 0.0 repair

Some of our streams are home to rare animals, some of which are only known from the Moreton Bay Region. These streams are of very high biodiversity value and a significant natural asset, which is most vulnerable and needs to be protected. The study, Streams of high biodiversity value - 2011 [PDF 3.1MB] identifies stream reaches of high biodiversity value and describes the rare and locally significant species found in these streams.

Annual Stream Health Reports

Previous reports

The two former councils (Caboolture and Pine Rivers) prepared the following reports on stream health and water quality at various intervals

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